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Asia XXX album cover
2.98 | 164 ratings | 14 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tomorrow the World (6:47)
2. Bury Me in Willow (6:01)
3. No Religion (6:36)
4. Faithful (5:37)
5. I Know How You Feel (4:53)
6. Face on the Bridge (5:59)
7. Al Gatto Nero (4:36)
8. Judas (4:43)
9. Ghost of a Chance (4:21)

Total Time 49:33

Bonus tracks on 2012 SE:
10. Reno (Silver and Gold) (5:15)
11. I Know How You Feel (Midnight mix) (5:23)

Bonus DVD from 2012 SE:
1. The Making of XXX (20:33)
2. Face on the Bridge (music video) (4:33)
3. Faithful (music video) (4:34)

Total Time 29:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Howe / acoustic, steel & electric guitars
- Geoffrey Downes / keyboards
- John Wetton / bass, guitar, lead vocals
- Carl Palmer / drums & percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Frontiers Records ‎- FR LP 560 (2012, Italy)

CD Frontiers Records ‎- FR CD 560 (2012, Italy)
CD+DVD Frontiers Records ‎- FR CDVD 560 (2012, Italy) With 2 bonus tracks plus a DVD

Thanks to progshine for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ASIA XXX ratings distribution

(164 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

ASIA XXX reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
4 stars Asia's 30 anniversary hence the 3 XXX's although I think they may also be blowing kisses perhaps? (ho ho) So was anyone expecting a full blown prog album? Of course not! They set out to make song based 'non prog' from the start 30 years ago and very little has changed.

In the best Asia tradition this is tightly played and beautifully produced .No soloing no frills ,Wetton's vocal takes centre stage and the other three form a protective circle music wise. In a way this could be seen as a John Wetton solo album with the best line up of session players you will get. The material is strong with no weak moments at all in my estimation.The bonus tracks are well worth getting especially I Know How You Feel which has to be one of their best ever. Solid 4 star AOR album

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I wasn't sure that the original four piece would return for another album considering that they only managed to release two albums back in the '80s before Steve Howe decided to leave the guys behind and create his own supergroup with Steve Hackett called GTR. After the magnificent comeback with Phoenix, an album I personally consider to be the best in the entire Asia catalog, and following it up with Omega really seemed like this supergroup quartet were content on reliving their glory days from back in the '80s. The first two comeback albums really had a nostalgic ring to them by featuring exactly the same classic sound and John Wetton's voice certainly sounded as if it was carefully preserved for the last 25 years. Now that those 25 years have turned into 30, that is 30 years since the release of the band's debut release, it was time to mark the occasion by releasing the appropriately titled XXX (pun intended).

After giving the album a few spins it was clear that Asia were still at it with their nostalgia style that will most certainly appeal to the fans who enjoyed them back in 1982. Still, there are a few differences with this record compared to the previous two reunion albums. First off, the sound is not as '80-sounding as before, which does ruin some of the momentum for me. I also was slightly excited about this album's lengthier track listing with most songs going way past the 4 minute mark that Asia are otherwise known for. Unfortunately there is really nothing to be excited for here since the songs are for most part just prolonged with an extra chorus, hence no chance that Asia will convert to a prog act any time soon. The final and biggest problem that I have with this release is that the songwriting is just not there anymore. I was not impressed after hearing the promo single Face On The Bridge for the first time, back in May, since it really sounded like one of their least interesting tracks yet. Luckily there are a few stronger moments on the actual album that do blow this first single out of water. Songs like Bury Me In Willow and Faithful still have those strong chorus lines that made Asia the enjoyable act that they are today but what I do lack are those strong ballads like Ever Yours and I Don't Wanna Lose You Now from Omega or Heroine and I Will Remember You from Phoenix.

Overall, XXX sounds like a collection of tracks that I consider subpar whenever I try comparing it with the previous two releases. It really sounds like the combination of old age and a longing for the past has gone overboard with this release but things get even worse whenever Asia tries something different on tracks like No Religion and the bonus track Reno (Silver And Gold). Let's just say that I would have been perfectly content if the band had called it a day after Phoenix and Omega because things will certainly not get any better from here on.

**** star songs: Tomorrow The World (6:47) Bury Me In Willow (6:01) Faithful (5:37) Ghost Of A Chance (4:21)

*** star songs: No Religion (6:36) I Know How You Feel (4:53) Face On The Bridge (5:59) Al Gatto Nero (4:36) Judas (4:43) Reno (Silver And Gold) (5:16)

Review by stefro
2 stars The third release from the group's original 1980s line-up since their 2008 comeback album 'Phoenix', the worryingly titled 'XXX'(designed to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary but looking much more like something you'd find adorning a hardcore porn movie) finds the quartet of Howe, Downes, Wetton and Palmer reeling off another slickly-produced set of pop-prog tunes in a similar style to their huge-selling 1982 debut and it's subsequent follow-ups. One of those rock groups who divide opinion rather intensely, Asia have, over the years, provided a simplistic pop outlet for it's members whilst also proving commercially very lucrative. Whilst the quartet's progressive pedigree is virtually untouchable, the actual musical content of Asia's albums is anything but. 'XXX', with it's mournful vocals, big choruses, catchy rhythms and retro-styled synthesizers, provides more of the same for the groups legion of fans, yet precious little for genuine prog-rock lovers. The rocky 'No Religion' aside then, this is very much standard AOR fare. You have been warned. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by lor68
3 stars Well, once again it's an embarassing moment when someone- fond of AOR music- ask me for reviewing a new album by Asia...but for a while their respectable career let me forget the glorious past of each member as former prog stars, above all when the business exigencies lead the strategies of the music market...this way I recognize the interesting features of such a melodic pop rock, still representing a true "trademark" and not only inside the solo albums by John! After all a good track like "Bury Me in Willow", despite the lyrics, is well arranged and the simple chorus well done too: the music is in the vein of their controversial debut album and quite acceptable today... of course if I compare it to "In The Spirit of Things" by Kansas or Journey's music of '81, the present AOR by Asia is a little bit "strident" and out of time as well!! Instead "Tomorrow The World", is the only tune whose keyboards are almost equal to those ones which characterized the second side of their first issue, enriched by means of the intelligent arrangement regarding the guitar lines by Steve and a decent rhytmical section as well! Talking about the hit single "Face On The Bridge" , I don't like it as a simplistic song and it doesn't add anything to the present 30th Anniversary...perhaps "Faithful" with their strong chorus and a good team work in general could be an exception, but it doesn't change my evaluation: 2 stars at P.A. and 3 stars 1/2 in a AOR discography
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Still chasing that elusive pearl 30 years later

The four original members of Asia surprised us in 2006 when they reunited and went on a world tour. Their first post-reunion release was an excellent live album and video called Fantasia - Live In Tokyo. That live recording was full of passion and energy and boasted a truly impressive set list including not only all the tracks from their eponymous debut album but also songs by Yes, King Crimson, and ELP. I dare say that the original Asia had never been better!

They followed this up with a new studio album in 2008. The high expectations set by the Fantasia DVD made Phoenix a slightly underwhelming experience, but it still holds up well in comparison with the band's three 80's albums. Another tour followed, and another live DVD was recorded, but they seem to have dropped the Yes, King Crimson, and ELP songs from the set list (?).

Yet another studio album followed in Omega, but this one fell ever farther short of expectations. At this point, Asia seemed to once again have settled into the rut in which they found themselves in the late 80's and early 90's (before John Payne saved the band). Whatever adventurous spirit that could be found on Fantasia and (to a lesser degree on) Phoenix was gone at this point.

Now, here is the third post-reunion studio album XXX (triple-X) and I must say that it is once again a disappointment. While it is a slight improvement over Omega, it is still a lame effort by what seems to be four tired and uninspired old men. Wetton and Downs once again dominate the proceedings while Howe and Palmer stay mostly in the background. The tracks are on average longer this time which initially spurred my interest, but sadly this extra time is rarely used for something interesting and the songs often feel overlong. For those who know the band, there are absolutely no surprises to be found here.

The good news is that the other version of Asia; Asia featuring John Payne has a new studio album in the making. There is every reason to believe that it will be better than XXX. One could perhaps hope that the competition will motivate the original members to better themselves, but if not maybe it is time to retire?

Review by kev rowland
2 stars So here we are, some 30 years on from the debut, and the four original members continue their reunion with another album. Back in 1982 I was studying for my degree and I played their debut to death ' for me every song was a triumph, and I knew the words to all of them and would happily sing along. So when I was sent this album to review I was really looking forward to it: it's a real shame that it doesn't live up to all my expectations. John's vocals are as strong as ever, and of course the musicianship is second to none, but it is the quality of the songs themselves that somewhat let the band down. The choruses are repeated too often and the song structures don't allow for the brilliance of the players to really come through.

Of course all of the harmonies and hooks are there, but there is a feeling that this has been created for radio airplay in America and in that context it could work as there are some catchy moments and it does work well when being played in a car, but in many ways this is an opportunity lost. Well produced and well played, this is an AOR album with a few prog tendencies that is for diehard fans only.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The old ones are the best

Heard the one about the four great prog musicians who got together and recorded an album of great pop songs? You know, the one where the prog fans collectivity turn up their noses at the band and deride them for having the audacity to record an album devoid of complex time signatures, side long compositions and impenetrable melodies. Well, like all good jokes, it certainly bears repeating, and here it is one more time.

Wait a minute though, what do you mean it is actually true? Well yes (or is that Yes?) and once again Howe, Wetton, Palmer and Downes dare to create a fine album of sophisticated pop songs with great melodies, killer hooks and quality arrangements. Embarrassed as we might be, we once again find ourselves singing along and tapping in time to the beat. It only takes a couple of listens before we can recite "Bury me in willow's" magical chorus word for word. It takes no time at all till we find ourselves cheerfully whistling the tune to "Tomorrow the world" for no reason at all as we walk down the road.

But surely this is unacceptable to a true fan of prog. We must deride this far too enjoyable collection of songs and bemoan the great waste of prog talent once again. We must question the motives of these prog greats, accuse them of reinventing the wheel, and use expressions such as "selling out" while secretly feeling compelled to listen once again to the album.

Or, we can simply be thankful for another fine collection of well crafted songs, superb arrangements and top rate musicianship. The fact that a number of the tracks are developed a bit more than usual, while retaining their instant appeal, is just the icing on the cake.

The choice is simple, decry the album on principle or sit back and enjoy it.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Asia's latest is another compressed pop studio piece of pap. There is no prog so let's get that out of the way before we go further. NO PROG. So we have John Wetton, great as ever on vocals and bass, Geoff Downes marvellous on keyboards, Steve Howe eternally brilliant on guitars, and Carl Palmer a living legend on drums. They play nicely and won't trouble any metronome from maintaining a steady 4/4 beat. The metronome swings back and forth happily with this knowledge after years of battering from the complexities of ELP, King Crimson, and Yes.

The album is called 'XXX' in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the album release, but don't dare Google Asia XXX while at work. Roger Dean's artwork is sublime paying homage to the debut album which is a nice touch, the proggiest thing about it as usual. It signifies The Chinese Year of The Water Dragon, 2012.

The album boasts some extremely popular radio hits already, I am talking about 'Bury Me In Willow', infectious chorus, steady 4/4 tempo, has a nice melody throughout and sweet vocals. It almost sounds like 80s AOR. It is nice. It did jam into my skull and I was walking around humming the tune; altogether now 'give me no standard, no eulogy, No red, white and blue, no sceptre and no cloak, Just bury me in willow, not in oooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaak.'.

'Tomorrow The World' is also popular. Great melody that wraps itself around your cerebral chord and refuses to let you sleep. The catchy chorus is maddeningly viral on your senses, you won't forget it if you listen too much. It is also nice. The synths sound like Europe's 'The Final Countdown' but it's a retro synth sound I agree with. The ending lead break is cool but not long enough, Mr Howe.

'No Religion' is even catchier than any of the other songs especially the maddening chorus 'Got no religion, just living hell, If I had some money, I'd drop it all in the wishing well, Stand in the doorway, wait for the man to come, Got no religion, and my life's just begun.' It has a decent keyboard solo and solid structure. Repetitive, sure, but that's radio friendly for you.

'Face on the Bridge' is the first single from 'XXX', reaching number 1. This and the first three songs are longer than 6 minutes but still are not as creative as one might desire given the talented skill on hand. Seeing the length of the songs made me wonder would they give us some virtuoso soloing? The answer is a resounding no. I could envisage housewives jumping about humming this while they make the dinner. Even my wife liked me listening to this pap, and she can't stand all that complex prog.

'Judas' annoys me lyrically and repetitively, but the worst song is 'Reno', a bonus track best left on the cutting room floor. It is dreadful slush. 'Ghost of a Chance' is also a dreary meandering syrupy ballad. Nice to put the old iphone in the air and sway during a concert, but give me Rush's 'Closer to the Heart' any day. The other bonus track is okay, 'I Know How You Feel', another saccharine lovey dovey ballad, but this has a strong melody that really is endearing.

At the end of listening to this AOR album one is left with a warm feeling, strong melodies and a mainstream radio sound does not hurt at all and at least Asia can create music that appeals to a mass audience. They are not particularly a band I would recommend or listen to often, but having stated that, this is still an album with quality production and packaging. All the talent of the prog legends though is buried in girly papsmear pop pith and it is a mediocre album with about 3 great songs. This album epitomises all the reasons I can't abide listening to top 40 radio hits; it is so syrupy the treacle pours out of my speakers. If this were an AOR site I would give it 3 stars, but it is not as good as their debut and I could only give that 2 stars so 2 stars it is again. I'm off to clean my ears out with some decent prog now, where's that King Crimson CD?

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's a very good album for a change...

Musically, I have never considered any album of Asia as a masterpiece even though my colleagues who like the kind of AOR music always put Asia as their main preference in daily playlist. Yes, they are those who know Genesis from Invincible Touch or Mama albums or know Yes from 90125 album. So in this case I admire their love to Asia albums. In their terms: "Music is an entertainment - why bother listening any complex composition like Karn Evil 9 or Gates of Delirium ? They are too complex to understand and require some thinking to digest. While music like Asia or Journey are straightforward and entertaining ....". Having known this background which is quite different with me who have been bombarded with prog since teenagers, I fully understand their standpoint. So, when I got together with them I could talk about this album as well.

If we look back the reason why Asia was originally established as a pathway for the progheads (especially Wetton, Palmer, Howe) express their musical ideas in much straightforward compositions, working together with Geoff Downes, we could not expect their output as prog as their origins in prog sphere. Put it another way, if hey create another prog compositions they would face head-to-head competition with their original band: King Crimson, ELP or Yes. And I was almost in that blunder when they were about to create the debut that I expected something like Crimson-ELP-Yes music. I was wrong and bit disappointed at first spin. But when I wiped out all my thinking about who play the music, then I started to enjoy Wildest Dreams, Time Again, Cutting It Fine etc. especially during a moment when I needed a change.

So is the case with this third album of the original line-up after reunited in 2008: I did not label this new album marked as XXX (30th anniversary) as prog album. By doing so, I felt relax when I first listened to the excellent opening track "Tomorrow The World". Wow! I like this song from the perspective of straight forward and simple rock music. Geoff Downes proves himself as melody maker as this opening track is characterized mainly by his keyboard sounds that are simple and most importantly "memorable". Anyone who listens to this song the first time would definitely repeat this keyboard shots as the notes are simple but nice. And ...this one has a very good and positive lyrics: "Tomorrow the world will seem a little clearer. The planets align, and all will be revealed" ... Oh man ... I love it! Oh by the way, I also love Steve Howe's guitar work. He plays excellently!

"Bury Me In Willow" (6:01) might be considered as straight pop rock tune like Toto in relatuvely slow tempo while its successor "No Religion" (6:36) has an uptempo style with some soft guitar riffs. It then flows nicely to another slow and nice "Faithful" (5:37). The next "I Know How You Feel" (4:53) is a melodic ballad in the vein of Supertramp especially when I look at the piano work. It's an enjoyable track. All other tracks are in similar vein and all of them are enjoyable for me. "Ghost Of A Chance" (4:21) has a great harmonies of Howe' acoustic guitar work, Downes piano as well as Wetton vocal. I like this last track very much. Mine has two bonus track which are really good: "I Know How You Feel" in midnight mix with really great Howe's acoustic guitar solo and the orchestra version of "Faithful".

In non-prog moments, it's a very good album

Well, yeah ...! I have to say this is a very good one to have if we really cut-off the prog label from the music. Composition-wise, this album is solid, offering us the various streams of melodies and harmonies throughout all tracks featured here combined altogether with good lyrical verses. If you are not in the mood of prog music, I would consider you to spin this one as it's entertaining and it has top notch sonic production. Don't miss it! Even though the debut album is still my fav Asia album of all-time, I also think this one is recommended. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Guillermo
3 stars In January 10th of 2013, it was announced that Steve Howe has left Asia once again to concentrate in his work with Yes and in his career as soloist. I still have not listened yet to the other 2 studio albums he recorded with Asia after their reunion in 2006 ("Phoenix" and "Omega"), but as in those albums the main songwriting in this album is from John Wetton and Geoff Downes, like it was predominantly in their "Alpha" album from 1983, an album which was the last the original line-up of the band recorded until their reunion this century happened. I think that maybe the old tensions in the original band surfaced again, but this time the split with Howe was managed as an "amicable" one, but after listening to this album I can say that maybe Howe felt not only restricted as a songwiter in Asia but also as a guitarist, because the main instruments in this album are the keyboards, and the songs structures donīt give very much space to Howe to play lead guitar parts as in their "Asia" and "Alpha" albums. So, the songs are full of lyrics and without very much space for solos, not even from the keyboards. The central space is for the lyrics and for John Wettonīs vocals. The songs are good, but without changes in the rhythm. So this album is very Pop Rock in musical style, with most songs being ballads, sung very well by Wetton, whose voice is still very good and powerful. Of course, every member of the band plays very well as they still are very good musicians, with a lot of experience. The recording and mixing of the album is very good. It is an enjoyable album, but some songs are predictable in their structure and they donīt leave very much space for variety.So, this is a good album done by a very good band, without question. I prefer to listen to this "old band" instead of listening to much of the "modern music" which is mostly done without "soul and feeling". These "old musicians" still have that "feeling and soul" even if the music is not very Progressive in style. Asia also announced that they have a new guitarist and they are going to carry on playing together. Good luck for them and good luck for Howe, but as it happened before, I think that without Howe the bandīs sound changes drastically as his guitar playing style is very much "entangled" with the original sound of the band.
Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I was quite disappointed when I first got this album on its release. At that point I'd only ever heard Asia's debut album, which I quite liked. I was intrigued by the Roger Dean cover, which - contrary to the album's musical content - is quite beautiful, so I decided to buy it. Seeing as I hadn't heard any of Asia's material from the 30 years in between, I was in for quite the surprise when I heard an album even less progressive than their debut.

The majority of the album is pop rock and soft rock and is largely forgettable and unappealing. There are a select few quality moments, such as the opener, "Tomorrow The World", which isn't unlike something that may have appeared on the band's debut, and Steve Howe's solo in "Faithful", which reminds me a little bit of "Wildest Dreams". So unless you're a die-hard fan of modern Asia, this album will be little more than $20 you'll wish you could get back.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I must say that I was surprised by this one. Considering the low rating I saw here I was expecting something not as good as their last two ones, I mean, those when the original line up got back together in 2006. Instead I found myself enjoying this one more than 2010 Omega. Of course I was not expecting anything progressive here, that was never Asias goal since the very beginning I was looking for the great mixture of pop/AOR/symphonic sound they became famous for. And I got it. There is no denying that their songwriting here is top notch and the songs are great for what they are. Who else is doing this kind of material with such quality, tastefulness and inspiration? For an album commemorating 30 years since their debut, they sound fresh, exciting and in top form.

All the tracks are excellent and the production is beautiful. The melodies are exquisite and the harmonies soar. I heard they wanted to do group songs and not individual skills when they formed. Iīm glad to see they still can do it, that one for all all for one feeling. No frills, no unnecessary technique displays. Just songs. Steve Howe for example shows how to be subtle and genial at the same time. He and the others have nothing to prove, so they are now working for the tunes.

Itīs a shame that Howe left the group in 2013 to concentrate with his work with Yes and his solo career. Their chemistry together is unique. And with Wettonīs passing we will never see the original line up again, but this album is a great bookend for this much maligned, but great band. If you like Asia in particular, or melodic music in general, I strong recommend this album.

Rating: maybe I should give it 3,5 stars, since this is a prog site and there is not much prog in here, but the aforementioned quality of the songs and the extraordinaire performance of all involved makes it above mere good. 4 stars rounded.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This seems like an attempt for these rock dinosaurs from Asia to make a quick buck from their nostalgic fans without trying too hard. And guess what? It's not half bad. It's actually one of their more consistent, catchy, rocky and brightly produced efforts. Since their reunion in original line-u ... (read more)

Report this review (#1028354) | Posted by Progrussia | Tuesday, September 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars While it would be easy for many listeners to dismiss Asia as washed up prog dinosaurs whose best days are behind them, this listener simply cannot do that. "XXX" is a brilliant piece of crossover-prog that recalls the best days of Asia and U.K. while lyrically being more advanced. It is quite ob ... (read more)

Report this review (#952517) | Posted by Fenrispuppy | Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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